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Doctoral Peer Mentor Biographies:
Kara McCoy, MA

About Me

Current Walden Program: PhD in Clinical Psychology

Education: MA in Counseling, BA in Theology

Location: Bold North of Minnesota! (Central Time Zone)

Research Interests: the effects of intergenerational trauma, early childhood trauma outcomes, benefits of faith organizations involved in community intervention, substance abuse generational trends, youth mental health issues and suicidal ideation, stigma around youth mental health challenges.

Hobbies and Interests: "I am a licensed minister, a licensed school counselor, and author. I also own a horse therapy business, helping kids whose families struggle with drug misuse, abandonment, and abuse. I travel the country full-time teaching community organizations and churches how to be better involved with the young people they are serving.  I love world travel, meeting new people, cruise, and the original Star Trek! Someday my name will be Doctor McCoy."

Family and Pets: I'm married, have an exceptional teen at home, and I raise a rather rare breed of dog: Leonbergers.

My Advice for a New Walden Student


Don't panic! You might be tempted to be when confronted by new situations. But you literally have every tool in Walden's arsenal at your disposal. And if you aren't sure where to find it, ask!
We are happy to point you in the right direction to see you be successful. Yes, I've had that "first" class...that caused anxiety, confusion, and excessive nail-biting, because it was
all so very new and overwhelming at times. Let us walk you through your questions- we've got your back!

My Doctoral Journey

Why did you choose Walden University?

I do a lot of travel for a living. I needed an online degree program that would still be quality enough to be reputable when I was job hunting later. I had been enrolled in an online degree elsewhere for my MAC and was disappointed to learn I could not continue on with them- as they had no online PhD program, so I sought out a new school. It was between this school and another and I felt like this one had the advantage of travel requirements which were right in my back yard. I live in Minnesota, so the BAYR in-person requirement allows me to live at my own house and see my own family every night. I appreciate that. So, Walden won!

What have you learned about yourself so far in your doctoral journey?

Hmmm. What have I learned? This is going to sound arrogant (so just forgive me now, because it isn't how I mean it...) but I have discovered that I am pretty smart. In the course of the past couple of years, I have really found my niche and made strides to be the best version of myself that I can be. The doctoral studies are significantly more complex than my counseling graduate studies and I have enjoyed walking around carrying the knowledge that my courses have pounded into my brain. I actually found myself sitting on a bus the other day discussing the parts of the brain that stop receiving signals if a baby monkey's eyelids are sewn shut. I mean, who talks about that kind of stuff? Me, I guess. And I had at least five other adults engaged in the conversation. It is a wonderful day to be learning- and even better if you can find ways to reinforce the learning in your daily living. It helps you remember!

My Walden Residencies

Where did you attend your first residency?

I went to Tampa between Christmas and New Year’s. It felt like such a wonderful idea... I mean, who wouldn't want to flee from the MN tundra weather right over the holidays and swap it for Florida warmth? :-) I brought my teenager and we spent New Year’s Eve in Walt Disney World. It was fun. And, it helped kind of melt away some of the stress as I completed this first new phase of my education. I really felt accomplished by that time, and I was ready to celebrate! What's better than flashing Mickey ears and a giant bag of cotton candy- nothing, my friends, nothing!! It also was handy because I work in a school and it tucked neatly into vacation time already established for the district. It is easier to get time off when there is a natural break.

What did you find most valuable about residency?

I found that residency was valuable in helping me see the potential problems or questions that would arise before I arrived at that crossroads. There is a lot of unknown out there - especially with residencies, blended year requirements that cannot be halted or missed, dissertation minutiae, and other "stuff" that I never considered because this is my first attempt at a doctoral degree. I spent about 15 minutes with an advisor and suddenly found myself digging through my 2020 planner and making notes for what I would need to plan ahead for. I loved their inclusive nature, and the hopes that I would be able to keep up with it all 

How did you network at your residency?

I will admit (gasp!) that I am not the loudest person in the room. I tend to chill and see what's going on, figure out where I can shine, and then jump in. So, I waited a couple of sessions and sat in a couple of groups of people and found those who were similar in interest to me. I would rather sit and chat about potential dissertation topics with someone who was able to identify with my desire to help kids who have experienced trauma. Find some people who are in your program with similar interests and then become friends on Facebook. Just see what becomes of it. While I don't sit around yapping with them every day, I did bump back into them during residency 2 and we sat together and it was so much more fun!

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